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This whistle-stop entitled to toot its own horn

By Debra Dobbins

Listening to three different national news reports on Mitt Romney’s second visit to Grand Junction, I only heard one specific mention of our fair city’s name. Otherwise, radio and TV reporters just said that he was campaigning in Colorado or that Mesa County has a 9 percent unemployment rate. Grand Junction probably seems insignificant to big-city types.

With that in mind, maybe a local hed writer’s use of “whistle-stop” in today’s front-page headline is appropriate.

The term goes back to the 19th century when train travel was the nation’s chief mode of transportation. Presidential candidates took to traveling by train, at times a private train, on their campaign trails. Sometimes they would disembark and greet visitors, but often they would stand at the back of the train and let the crowds gather around them to hear a speech.

The most famous presidential railcar is the Ferdinand Magellan, first used by President Roosevelt. It became “the first passenger railcar built for a President since the War Department had built a special car for the use of Abraham Lincoln in 1865,” according to Wikipedia. The Ferdinand Magellan is now on display at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, Fla.

A whistle-stop was a town so under-populated that a depot official had to blow a whistle to alert the train’s driver not to rumble through the station without stopping.

If Grand Junction is just a whistle-stop, it is still one that offers an outstanding cultural scene, a university with high academic rigor, the earth’s rich bounty coming from nearby farms, orchards and vineyards, and a myriad of recreational activities set in gorgeous scenery.

Nope, there’s nothin’ wrong with being a Western Colorado whistle-stop.

The Ferdinand Magellan
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford wave during their 1976 whistle-stop tour of Michigan
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 

President Ronald Reagan goes on a whistle-stop tour through Ohio in 1984
Caption and photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 

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